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Navigate Your Next Networking Event with Ease

There is a reason why “networking” appears on every list of job search tips; because it is extremely important - but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Networking is a skill, and as such it does require a little preparation and practice. Net Impact is here to help! 

We have comprised this list of tips to help you navigate your next networking event. 

1. Prepare

A professional networking event can be very intimidating, especially if you know you will be facing a room full of strangers, but a little preparation ahead of time will help you feel more comfortable and get the most out of your experience. Think about what you want to accomplish and learn at the event. If being put on the spot makes you nervous, plan out a few questions to ask and think about what you will feel comfortable sharing about yourself, that way you won't have to rely on others to carry a conversation. 

2. Make an effective introduction

First impressions do make a difference so even though it seems obvious, dress to impress, smile, and maintain eye contact. To act professional, state your first and last name and give a firm, brief handshake. Listen out for the other person’s name (it’s easy to miss) and then use it twice while you’re speaking to help you remember. 

3. Be present

Once you do start a conversation try to relax, look warm, and show interest in what they other person is saying. That way you will seem sincere to the person you are speaking with and you will be approachable for others to join in or start a new conversation with you. Ask questions that show you are interested in more than just your own job opportunities and ones that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” to keep the conversation moving forward. Beware- while sharing your story is encouraged, don’t talk about yourself the whole time!

4. Bring business cards

But you don’t have a job? It doesn’t matter, still bring business cards. It shows you are prepared, professional, and it gives potential connections, employers, coworkers, or friends all your contact details. Also take business cards from people you would like to continue networking with so you can send them a follow up email a few days after the event- always keep those lines of communication open. 

5. Challenge yourself 

This is probably the hardest on the list, but it will be worth it when you accomplish the goals you set. Give yourself a challenge that will push you out of your comfort zone; maybe you meet with someone you don’t know every week or attend one networking event each month. It may seem difficult at first, but it will get easier as your network continues to grow.

Are you ready to put your new networking skills to the test? Net Impact holds national and local events to help you build connections and make a lasting impact on the world. 

Our next big event? The 2017 Net Impact Conference where you can network with like-minded people, recruiters, and impact leaders. 

5 tips to help you navigate your next networking event
5 tips to help you navigate your next networking event

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The secret jobs market

It’s a bitter pill to swallow for job seekers who spend their Sunday afternoons trawling the jobs boards and fine-tuning their CVs, but just as media has gone social, so too has recruitment. Easier, cheaper and faster than traditional hiring processes, networking is now the No. 1 way new positions are filled. And while it’s hard to get reliable figures, I hear time and time again from my corporate clients that these vacancies aren’t even necessarily being advertised. I call this the “secret jobs market,” and it has huge implications for your job search.

There are a number of reasons: Internal connections, online recommendations and a personal brand can tell employers much of what they want to know about a prospective employee long before a resume lands in their inbox. Given that hiring managers are under such pressure to find the best candidates and reduce the risk to the company of a subpar hire, it should be no surprise that they’re making use of less formal, more social channels.

The rules, revisited

The new secret jobs market means new rules for job seekers. My key takeaway? The 80/20 Rule, whereby 80 percent of your time should be spent on networking: 60 percent on real-life relationship building through conferences, events, coffees and cocktails; and 20 percent on online branding such as Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs and websites. The remaining 20 percent should be spent on job postings.

Many people cringe at the thought of networking — it can feel uncomfortable and contrived — but it’s up to you to get the word out and sell yourself. In fact, it’s crucial. Building and reaching out to your network doesn’t have to be scary and sales-y. Think of it more as a professional friendship. To demystify the process, I’ve set out my top five tips for navigating the Secret Jobs Market.

Build your personal brand

Your personal brand is what sets you apart as a candidate. Don’t have one? I hate to break it to you, but whatever comes up on the first page of a Google search for your name, general location and broad career interests is your personal brand. Either you take control of it, or fate does.

Enhance your social media accounts with friendly photos, regular posts and keyword-heavy bios, and consider starting a blog to boost your profile.

Put relationships first

With more than 50 percent of jobs landed due to personal connections or referrals, it is crucial to leverage your network of contacts for your professional development. Shift your priorities away from CV perfection and towards human beings: take every opportunity to build professional friendships and enhance existing ones, make an effort to catch up with former colleagues and seek out a mentor who can help you grow.

Give to get

Networking should be a two-way street. When you reach out, always be sure to send your audience something that’s of interest to them or their business — competitor insight, sector white paper, article, news of a conference or legislation. You could even refer them to a lead that could help with new customers, funding or top talent. Or, simply offer a favor in exchange for their help. My Southern mother always taught me, “Never show up empty handed!” That way, when you need a personal recommendation or an internal referral, you’re more likely to get a positive response.

Do the hard work for them

If you are going to reach out to people you know for introductions, you need to make it as pain-free and as easy for them as possible. Start by identifying who you want them to introduce you to from their network — don’t put the onus on them to dig up names from their internal database of contacts. Then you need to write the script. Make it easy for your contact to literally cut and paste a blurb they can use to introduce you. My favorite approach is a one-page job proposal.

Send a bio, not a resume

Instead of sending a resume, try attaching a less-formal, 2,000-character bio. This should tell a strong story about why you have credibility in the market so that you look like a reputable contributor, not a desperate job seeker. Remember that you also can point them to your LinkedIn profile, which in essence is a public resume anyway. Frame it like an elevator pitch: concise; clear; confident; and skills-focused.

Shannon Houde is an ICF certified executive and career coach who founded, Walk of Life Consulting, the first international professional development advisory business focused solely on the social impact, environmental and sustainable business fields.


The new secret jobs market means new rules for job seekers.
The new secret jobs market means new rules for job seekers.

Tailor your formal bio for LinkedIn

Just as each social media service has its own role in job searches, each has its own biography requirements. Here’s how to take your formal bio and transform it into something smart-casual that’s just right for LinkedIn.

The four bios every job seeker needs

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need one biography, you need four: a 140-character micro bio for Twitter, a short bio to work as the four-line profile in your CV , a full bio that’s over 2000 characters and written in the third person, and a LinkedIn bio that’s 2000 characters or less and written in the first person. Each of these is simply a narrative version of the information you would include in your CV, albeit sliced, chiselled and buffed to fit into different formats. You are not rewriting four bios, you are cut and pasting from each to keep your personal branding consistent.

But first, what should your full bio be like? Well, it should be more formal than your other bios. Aim for about a half a page in length in Microsoft Word with an 11pt font and remember to write in the third person (for example, ‘Ava is’ rather than ‘I am’).

Start with your name and insert a small professional photo in the top left corner, then get down to business. State what you do and get your key accomplishments in there early to hook the reader. Include only impressive and relevant information such as your current job, professional experience, publications, presentations, professional memberships, awards, honors, certifications and education. Include a brief final comment about where you live or your favorite activities, but no more than that.

You want to tell it like a story though, an impressive journey that you have been navigating through as your career to date. For example you might say “Ava chose a career in social responsibility after seeing the poverty on the streets of Mumbai as a teenager…”

Make it LinkedIn-friendly

Your LinkedIn bio uses all the same ingredients as your full bio above, but it adds in a little sprinkle of personality too. It should be written in the first person in a conversational, friendly-but-business tone in 2000 characters—no more, and certainly no less! I prefer to read each sentence as a separate paragraph, forcing you to keep things quite punchy and avoid the long paragraphs that turn off a social media reader.

Once you’ve got the bones of it together, arrange your bio into the four key categories outlined below.

Part 1 : The pitch

The first 100 words of your LinkedIn bio are your sales pitch, so use them to set out your story in neat, punchy language that drills down on your unique selling point (USP).  They are your mission, your goal, your passion for doing what you do. Hook the reader here. Think of it as your 30-second elevator pitch.

This first paragraph is crucial in getting a recruiter’s attention so make sure the key information is upfront and un-missable. Many people are too shy to set out their career expectations somewhere as public as LinkedIn, but stating what you’re looking for from your next job—in terms of dream role, dream company or both—can be a smart move that makes you look dynamic, ambitious and strategic.

Part 2 : Your specialties

The second part of your LinkedIn bio is your list of specialities. This part is all about optimizing your profile for search using relevant keywords, so think of it as an advertisement to all of your potential employers to tell them how much they need you.

Your specialities should be a list of at least 10 terms that cover all of your industries, skills, interests, past, current and potential job titles, etc. Make sure you include synonyms (i.e. ‘sustainability’, and ‘corporate social responsibility’, and ‘‘corporate responsibility’) to improve your likelihood of popping up in search recruiters’ search results.

Part 3: Your achievements

The achievement section is my favorite part of a job seeker’s profile or CV because it’s the place where you let your track record do the talking. I’m constantly telling clients not to be shy about their achievements but many don’t know how to wow the reader up front., Why did are you proud of that accomplishment? If you don’t tell the world how amazing you are, who else will? Using my formula for writing compelling accomplishment statements will help you do this in a way that’s backed up with facts.

Part 4: You’re unique

Unlike your full bio, LinkedIn welcomes personal flavor and fun! The final part of your profile is the place to mention your qualifications, volunteer leadership, interests and activities. Take the opportunity to inject a little ‘you’ into your profile—but do it in a strategic way by keeping in mind the kind of keywords recruiters might be searching for, while making the reader smile. It’s good to end on a happy note and humor always makes us remember you!

Good luck turning your bio into something special for social media, and let me know if it helps you land your dream job. If you think your career could benefit from a personal critique of your LinkedIn profile, get in touch with me for some bespoke advice and support.

This article originally appeared on GreenBiz.

About the Author: Shannon Houde is an ICF certified executive and career coach who founded, Walk of Life Consulting, the first international professional development advisory business focused solely on the social impact, environmental and sustainable business fields.

Take your formal bio and transform it into something smart-casual that’s just right for LinkedIn.
Take your formal bio and transform it into something smart-casual that’s just right for LinkedIn.

Join the People’s Climate March

The People’s Climate March will take place on April 29th in Washington D.C. with sister marches around the globe. This date marks the 100th day of the Trump Administration and one week after Earth Day 2017. 

If we learned anything from the Women’s March in January it is that millions of people are embracing and exercising their rights to peaceful protests. Issues that have been bracing our society for quite sometime have suddenly taken on a new sense of urgency with the state of our current political climate, and now’s as ripe a time as ever to march for the protection of our planet.

If you’re choosing to participate, we suggest making sure you do so as sustainably as possible. Do you want to make a creative sign? Try recycling old cardboard, or repurposing other already used materials (maybe your sign from the Women’s March?). Are you living too far from D.C? Galvanize your own community to create a localized People’s Climate March, sparing the resources needed for long travel. 

At Net Impact, we are extremely passionate about combating climate change. We support the efforts of people marching peacefully all over the world on April 29th and will continue to pursue efforts to protect our climate for generations to come. 

Hundreds Of Thousands Turn Out For the 2014 People’s Climate March In New York City.
Hundreds Of Thousands Turn Out For the 2014 People’s Climate March In New York City.

Walking the Talk: Going Green with the Atlanta Falcons

You probably know that Atlanta Falcons are the second best (deflatable, ahem, debatable) team in football, but did you know that the entire Falcons organization is going green?

Spearheaded by GM, Thomas Dimitroff - and his own personal passion for the environment - the Atlanta Falcons Green Initiative has grown into an organization-wide movement helping to educate and empower not only Falcons staff and players, but the entire community of Atlanta.

Atlanta Falcons Green Initiative

The mission of the initiative is threefold:

  • Leveraging the Falcons' high-profile brand in the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia to promote large-scale public actions that further green causes
  • Partnering with the Georgia Dome (and soon-to-be Mercedes-Benz Stadium) to make sure game days are as environmentally friendly as possible
  • Walking the talk as a business, proactively reducing the environmental footprint of all Falcons facilities through policy changes and aggressive green programs

Here are just some of the ways the Falcons have reduced waste, conserved energy, and limited their use of finite resources:

  • A retention pond is used to water all practice fields
  • 9,500 pounds of paper and plastic waste is recycled per month
  • All energy usage is tracked and analyzed, then used to establish annual goals
  • A game day recycling program
  • When evaluating potential business partners, the Falcons take into consideration their green committments

Mercedez-Bens Stadium

You may have heard that the Georgia Dome will hold it's final event in March 2017. The Falcons new stadium (and the home of 2019's Big Game, Super Bowl LIII) will incorporate the latest in sustainable advancements related to design, construction, and operations.  Here are just some of the highlights:

  • It will be the first sports facility to have a water capture and reuse system that will help cool the building and provide onsite irrigation
  • Over 4,000 solar PV panels will be installed on the stadium site and on the Georgia World Congress Center campus and will generate enough solar energy in a year to power over nine Falcons home games
  • The new property layout encourages bicycle and alternative fuel vehicle use

Another Big Event in Atlanta this Year

The 2017 Net Impact Conference will be held October 26 - 28 at the Georgia World Congress Center - yes, right next to where the Falcons play.  Register now to exlpore the city of Atlanta and discover your Path to Purpose. 

Congratulations to Falcons Fans and the City of Atlanta!
Congratulations to Falcons Fans and the City of Atlanta!

Insights into the traditional textile market of Peru

Lourdes Martinez is a 2016-2017 Net Impact Fellow and a student at Parsons School of Design. She is a part of the Impact Design cohort and through her project, Lourdes plans to promote sustainability within the Parson’s community using the Design Thinking methodology as a tool. Read on learn more about Lourdes' trip to Cusco, Peru to understand the system dynamics of local businesses - how goods flow and the social impacts associated with them. 

On the last weeks of 2016 I had the amazing opportunity of going back to my home country in order to do a research about the Traditional Peruvian Textile Market. My focus was on the practices which were involved with tourist consumption and what better place to go than Cusco, the Andean area where every tourist who visits Machu Picchu, one of the world’s seven wonders, goes to.

During the days I was in Cusco I had the chance to have classes and learn how to weave using antique techniques. Also, I visited the main artisanal markets, design stores and textile museums in Cusco and the Sacred Valley. From observation, immersive experiences, interviews and shadowing I discovered the following characteristics of Peru’s Traditional Textiles Market.

The Young Weavers

Traditional Textiles are made by weavers who learn the ancient techniques from the members of their families. This is a tradition that is passed from generation to generation. As the weaving process reflects not only productivity but also culture I decided I had to try it myself. During the days I was involved in the weaving classes I thought I was going to learn from a traditional woman. However, my teacher was a friendly young woman who was a mother, wore jeans and listened to pop music or reggaeton latest hits. She was very kind and loved to weave and told me many young people stopped weaving because they use their time to study in universities or work as these activities can give them a higher income. As a result, in the different communities less people are weaving and if this continues the traditional methods and all of what they represent will be lost.

The Traditional Value

Going through the artisanal markets I realized that many of the products offered both in Cusco City and in the Sacred Valley are very similar. The few products which are different are much more expensive. What’s happening around that is that each handmade textile can take days, weeks or even months to make. This increases the value and also the price of the product. In this context industrial products which have the peruvian look and feel have appeared, in bigger quantities and at lower prices. Then, the traditional products made by artisans have a competition which may not have the same value but has cheaper prices which become attractive to many customers, making the traditional artisans struggle.

Business Know-How

Cusco is a magnificent place. You can breathe the creative vibe wherever you go. Traditional weavers are full of creativity, from the way they make the colors from organic matters, to the way they design their products and their patterns. However, they lack a business know-how and that is another barrier they find when they want to promote their products and keep weaving. One of the best choices for them is to sell their products to a third party who pays them less than 50% of their final retail price and this is called fair trade.

It’s clear to me that Peru’s Traditional Textiles have such a great cultural value that they we shouldn’t lose them. They are part of our identities. However, for this to happen the traditional weavers need help in their business know-how and marketing skills. They need advice about how to make their business model sustainable, how to charge according to the time invested in each product and how to contact interested people who are willing to buy their crafts.

Learn more about the Net Impact Fellowships, our four cohorts - Impact Design, Criminal Justice, Healthy Food, and Racial Equity - and all of our amazing fellows here.


Net Impact Fellow, Lourdes shares her research about the Traditional Peruvian Textile Market.
Net Impact Fellow, Lourdes shares her research about the Traditional Peruvian Textile Market.

Top questions to ask in a job interview

Shannon Houde has over 15 years of coaching, mentoring, and training in the impact sector and is the founder of Walk of Life Consulting.

You spent hours on your CV, targeted the right employers and positions, tackled the dreaded cover letter, and made it through the initial screening process. Then you landed the interview — congratulations! With sustainability jobs in high demand (most hiring managers receive an average of 200 applications per role) this is quite an accomplishment. You are getting close to the finish line but still need to give a great interview before you land your dream job.

Before any interview (and even before applying to a position), you should know as much as possible about the company you may be marrying into. However, the interview is a great time to get some inside information on your adopted family – so be ready with thoughtful questions about the work culture that an Internet search won’t give you. There is no need to waste this time with “throwaway” questions about salary, benefits and hours, etc. at this stage – if all goes well, you can have those conversations later on. Instead, focus on thoughtful questions that will help the interviewer really get to know you and will help you get to know the position and company.

Here are my top seven questions to ask in an impact sector job interview:

1. What is the one- to five-year plan for the company?

Interviews can be stressful and sometimes it feels like the magnifying glass is focused exclusively on you. But try to remember that you are interviewing them too! Learn as much as you can about the company’s plans for the future. If you are offered the job, you want to make sure it will be a good fit for you today and down the line.  This also shows your interest in the long-term and your commitment to them already

2. How will the company support my long-term career development?

Before walking into your interview, you should have a strong sense of how you visualize the next few years of your own career. Ask this question to make sure that the company will help you develop and grow in the way you have envisioned for yourself.  But be careful here because you don’t want to look like you need to be developed in order to do the job.  This question needs to be in the context of your goal of staying long-term with the firm.

3. What have you most enjoyed about the culture here?

Interviews are a chance to look behind the scenes at how a company really operates, to look past what they say on paper. This question gives you a chance to personally connect with the interviewer during your conversation and also can help you determine whether or not the company truly “walks the talk” about employee life.

4. What will you expect me to achieve in the first six months? Would we set these KPIs together?

This two-part question can help you get and idea of how they see your growth oath within the role and the company. It helps you and your potential employer to establish clear goals and also helps paint a clear picture of how your responsibilities will develop during your first year in the position. It also shows that you are already thinking about meeting those objectives.

5. What constitutes success with in this company?

A question like this one will show that you are looking forward to a future of growth and success within the position and will give you a chance discuss some of your past successes as they relate to this new role. It also shows you are looking at your role/team as integral to the bigger company’s objectives.

6. Who would my key stakeholders be, both internally and externally in this position?

The people you work with have a huge effect on your day-to-day life in this role. Make sure to ask a bit about your potential team and develop a solid understanding about who you will be reporting to and who will be reporting directly to you.  Also who you will be expected to influence and persuade with your empathy and listening skills.

7. What are the next steps?

You made it to the end of the interview, but if all has gone according to plan, the conversation isn’t over yet! Ask this final question to get a sense of how to best move forward.  But let them lead on this.  If they start talking about further interviews, start dates, salary, that is a good sign but nothing is sealed and delivered until you have a written offer letter.

And don’t forget to always write your contact a personal thank you letter outlining your three top points for why you are amazing (concise one line bullet points) within 24 hours!

I know interviews can be nerve-wracking. But armed with insightful and thoughtful questions can help you nail any impact sector interview. Schedule a mock interview with me to put your new knowledge and communications skills to the test in the hot seat.

This article originally appeared on Triple Pundit

About the Author: Shannon Houde, MBA, is founder of Walk of Life Consulting, the first international career coaching business focused solely on the environmental, sustainability and Corporate Responsibility (CR) fields.


Nail any impact sector interview with insightful questions.
Nail any impact sector interview with insightful questions.

Education for all or for some – and at what price?

You could not have had two more diametrically opposed headlines these past days.  Betsy DeVos was confirmed (by an historic Vice Presidential tie-breaking vote) for Education Secretary, and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced that all SF residents are eligible for free community college starting in the Fall.

Ms. DeVos’ s controversy stems from her large donations to the senators who voted for her and her apparent lack of fundamental knowledge and experience in public education in America. Ms. DeVos is a proponent of charter schools and vouchers. Only two Republican senators voted against her nomination – one was Ms. Murkowski who was influenced by thousands of messages from her constituents and the nominee’s lack of awareness of what actually is successful within the public schools, what is broken and how to fix them. However, Senator Lamar Alexander said Ms. DeVos had “led the most effective public school reform movement over the last few years”. 

David E. Kirkland, an education professor at New York University who has studied Ms. DeVos’s impact in Michigan, said he feared she could hurt public education and pull resources out of schools in need of federal funding. We shall see what transpires. 

And at the other end of the spectrum was Mayor Ed Lee announcing that City College of San Francisco will be free of charge to all city residents. The city will also contribute $250 to full-time, low income students who already receive a state-funded fee waiver.  This will give them money to pay for books, transportation, school supplies etc.  Part-time students will also get $100 per semester. The city Supervisor likened the agreement to public schooling for K-12 saying that “City College would be free to all, too.”

Our Net Impact chapters were busy addressing DeVos’s impact on education.  At Northwestern, the Net Impact chapter hosted three panelists to discuss why there is inequity within the education system and what can be done to alleviate it. 

Despite concerns about the changing education environment, the panelists called on Northwestern students to take an active role in fighting education inequity by joining campus organizations and voting in local school board elections.

We encourage all our Net Impact members to take an active role in fighting for what they believe in. 

If you need help turning your passion into world-changing action, join or start a Net Impact chapter today!

Encouraging all of our members to take an active role in fighting for their beliefs.
Encouraging all of our members to take an active role in fighting for their beliefs.

What do Grad Students say about their programs?

Each year, we publish our Guide to Business Schools for Social and Environmental Impact - the only guide to impact graduate programs for students, by students.  Schools are not only profiled and ranked based on environmental and social impact themes, but we aggregate the data to find year to year trends as well.  

Below, view our infographic of the worldwide data from our 2016 survey.

Read the entire Guide, including over 75 school profiles, here.

Net Impact’s Guide to Business Schools for Social and Environmental Impact 2016 rates graduate programs on their focus on social and environmental themes.
Net Impact’s Guide to Business Schools for Social and Environmental Impact 2016 rates graduate programs on their focus on social and environmental themes.

2017: The Year For Social Entrepreneurs

Social Entrepreneurship is a modern concept born out of necessity. In the developed world, social entrepreneurs emerged as a group who needed to innovate at a faster rate than government funded charities. Whereas in the developing world, social entrepreneurship came about as an answer to the inexistence of government support and systemic difference in social ideologies. While both examples differ from one another, they are fundamentally rooted in an opposition to, or desired absence of, government.    

So when people ask if the incumbent president Donald Trump has any impact on the landscape of social entrepreneurship, the simple answer is no, and the more complex answer is never. Social entrepreneurs are a group who operate mutually exclusively from government parties. In a lot of ways this election has called upon social entrepreneurs to work harder, because their businesses will need to supplement the social programs at risk of being defunded.

Planned Parenthood, The National Immigration Law Center, and Greenpeace are just a few of the progressive organizations that face an uphill battle in the coming four years. They can benefit from the support of social enterprises, whether that be through innovative fundraising initiatives, or by creating companies that find ways to provide additional social services to their clients. 

If you need further proof that 2017 will be the year for social entrepreneurs, look no further than the idea that in just 10 weeks has become a movement, spurring hundreds of thousands to head to Washington, D.C. this Saturday, January 21st and even more to march in their hometowns.

Julie Kent is a fellow at Net Impact and member of the San Francisco Professional Chapter.  Do you have an opinion piece or story you’d like to share on the Net Impact blog? Let us know.

Will 2017 be the year for social entrepreneurs?
Will 2017 be the year for social entrepreneurs?

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